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Darth Sanguis

Loose thoughts on squads

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I'm not the biggest fan of squadron play in Armada, I'll be the first to admit. When I first started playing, shortly after the coreset was released, I was under the impression squadrons would have a very light role and these fleets would revolve around larger ships. Not to say I was expecting line up-punch out matches where both teams just fly directly at each other, but rather using maneuverability or special upgrades and objectives to win conflicts.

 

Now that we're in wave 5, with a preview of what's ahead, and squadrons are an essential part of the game, I can't help but think FFG dropped the ball on squads.

 

The first thing that comes to mind is the fleet building... "1/3 of your fleet point total" sounds like they weren't quite committed to making squads as powerful as they are during the creation process. It just doesn't really make sense to me. Ships have slots for commanders, officers, upgrades, titles, modifications and so on, but squadrons are these daft little cards that cannot be customized at all. The bases are unweildy and the gameplay involving them is often inaccurate. I feel FFG could have made a much more dynamic squadron system. If you're going to force players to use squadrons by making them very powerful, why not make it whole?

 

I guess I just think it could be done better... here's what I came up with

 

*fleet building*

-Each fleet gets a 100 point squadron allowance.

-Each individual squadron type would have applicable upgrade slots (Ace, weapons, shields, boosts, titles ect).

-The cost of the base squadron, without upgrades comes out of the squadron allowance. (basically allowing up to 8-10 squads)

-The cost of squadron upgrades comes out of the standard fleet cost.

 

(with this system, even people who want to build with big ships would still get a very basic fighter screen without digging into their ship funds, meanwhile opponents who put extra points into their squadron upgrades would have a much easier time cutting through that screen or doing damage to ships with squads)

 

*gameplay*

-Squadron bases would be slightly larger and square (maybe almost as wide as the short side of a small ship) with a single shield-dial-like number dial on the rear representing HP

-Squadrons would have 4 firing arcs and hull zones similar to ships but no shields (shields accounted for in HP totals).

-Squadrons have separate armaments for squads and ships, ships can only be attacked out of the front hull zone

-Squadrons are weak to attack on the rear hull zone, critical hits count towards the damage total when targeting the rear of a squadron

-Deployment rules are the same

-Movement rules are the same (a squadron can be placed to face any direction the player wants)

-Engagement rules are similar (a squadron must attack a squadron they are engaged with first, when possible, when engaged they are prevented from moving, however, engaged squads can rotate their base in increments of 90° until facing the direction desired instead of a movement. Rotating a squadron this way counts as moving. IE, a squadron that is engaged, that can only attack OR move, may either choose to attack OR rotate their squadron base )

-Obstruction rules the same.

-Overlap rules are the same.

-Activation: A squad can be activated 1 of 3 ways each round. Through a ship's squadron command, Pairing, and during Squadron phase. A ships command works exactly the same as now. Pairing: instead of activating a ship a player may select two unactivated squadrons within range 1 of each other, squadrons activated this way may move or attack. squadron phase remains the same as well. The ship phase ends when both players have activated all their ships, remaining unactivated squadrons are activated during squadron phase. squadron phase rules are the same.

-Attack steps are the same.

-Destroyed squadrons, and all upgrades onboard, count towards the score total

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To me, this gives big ship builds the delays they need sometimes by allowing fighters to pair activate as well as a decent fighter screen without making small ship builds weaker. It makes squads way more accurate and designs weakness into the fighters themselves. Gonna shoot a ship? you'll have to turn you back to enemy fighters. Gonna lock down enemy fighters? be ready for them to tear you up. With upgrades and titles as well as aces, it could make the squadron dynamic really fun with annoying the hell out of people who want to see big ships do the shooty thing. 




 

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This over complicates squads. People already say the squad play slows down Armada. Now I have to measure arcs for every squad? That seems pretty brutal when we got max squads on both sides. Not to mention I'd have to make a precise measurement to make sure I'm engaged and to know if my target is in arc while everything is clustered. 

I think the reason squads are no customization is because that's what X-Wing is. And then you have to deal with what squad has what ability/ies and marking them. Plus, with your system, I could buy 100 points of squads and pimp them out using the normal fleet points. Take my flag ship and the rest in squads which have a ton of buffs n synergy. And give them all Rogue and Escort and Scatter. Biggs passes damage around and btw, everything will have counter. 

I don't know. I like how the generic squads are. I get an X-Wing and it's just an X-Wing. It does basic things. It's simple.

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You made an assumption that the game was going to be just Large Ships duking it out, but that was never the game, just your assumption. I love the game where it's at and would have quit a long time ago if it was just two ISDs on each side throwing dice. There is a huge variety for the game with where it's at, and there should be. There is no one list to rule them all and Squadrons are needed at a minimum to screen your ships but you got all the Squadrons you will ever need in the starter box. Bring 5 X-Wings or 7 Tie Fighters with Howlrunner and you're set. You don't need to bring 1/3 your list Squadrons. 

 

And we just had a thread making suggestions to rules changes yesterday and we don't need a new one. Just post this there and keep the number of identical threads down. 

 

Thanks.

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1 minute ago, Undeadguy said:

This over complicates squads. People already say the squad play slows down Armada. Now I have to measure arcs for every squad? That seems pretty brutal when we got max squads on both sides. Not to mention I'd have to make a precise measurement to make sure I'm engaged and to know if my target is in arc while everything is clustered. 

I think the reason squads are no customization is because that's what X-Wing is. And then you have to deal with what squad has what ability/ies and marking them. Plus, with your system, I could buy 100 points of squads and pimp them out using the normal fleet points. Take my flag ship and the rest in squads which have a ton of buffs n synergy. And give them all Rogue and Escort and Scatter. Biggs passes damage around and btw, everything will have counter. 

I don't know. I like how the generic squads are. I get an X-Wing and it's just an X-Wing. It does basic things. It's simple.

I think we've come too far into squadron mechanics to really make the argument it "over complicates" anything.  With current Ace abilities plus upgrades from ships, there's already a mess to worry about. Armada should either have squads so generic they're basically tokens, or involved enough they are basically half ships. 

A.) Bigger bases means easier tool movement between squads (especially as I designed them in photo) 
B.) This will never happen, but, if switched to this system a new measure stick could be developed so that the measure tool itself is distance one but in the middle, is a 8-12" thin handle, so one could place the tool from above. this would be indefinitely easier to use and read.
C.) Laser saw guides are $6.50 at harbor fright and make arc measuring hands free and easy.
D.) Considering this is a work over in the functionality of these units, aces, weapons, upgrades all that would be reworked to fit, don't consider this with current ace designs in mind.
F.) Even with all the added buffs, those are points that come out of your ship point total, it means your ships wont be able to hold their end as well. 


The current Squadron system is messy. Clean it up. Make Squads a real part of the game not just the step-child after thought that grew into the monster it is. 


Maybe this system isn't it, but I'd  still believe FFG could have done better. 

 

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4 minutes ago, Darth Sanguis said:

The current Squadron system is messy. Clean it up. Make Squads a real part of the game not just the step-child after thought that grew into the monster it is. 


Maybe this system isn't it, but I'd  still believe FFG could have done better. 

 

I agree the squadron mechanics are messy. But I also like what squadrons are and what they do in the game. Just a difference of opinion.

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9 minutes ago, Beatty said:

if it was just two ISDs on each side throwing dice. There is a huge variety for the game with where it's at, and there should be. There is no one list to rule them all and Squadrons are needed at a minimum to screen your ships but you got all the Squadrons you will ever need in the starter box. Bring 5 X-Wings or 7 Tie Fighters with Howlrunner and you're set. You don't need to bring 1/3 your list Squadrons. 

No one said "just two ISDs on each side throwing dice". Fleet combat should be a mix. Large ships, medium ships, small ships. I'd love to run an ISD, interdictor two raiders and a goz and still have the fighters accurately displayed on the mat.  Same goes for rebs, I'd love to get an MC80 home one with an AF,neb and two gr75s and still have a compliment of fighters, again, accurately portrayed on the mat.

 

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To hop on board the train, I like the way the squads are set up now. I don't want a change to the bases, and I don't think it's possible for FFG to go back and change them. In regards to upgrades, I could easily see aces being equipped to different ships, and having each ace with their own ability, if not the same one we have now. So Luke and Vader can keep their ability, but allow them access to different ships. Kind of like titles, but perhaps a certain set of squads and have their point value attached to the squad. Keep the squad points at 134.

We can use the new discard upgrades as inspiration for buffs on the squads. Like giving X-Wings proton torpedoes so their crits can deal 1 hull damage face down, or A-Wings can have concussion missiles that increase their anti-squad value by 1 black. Don't care about point value, but they are discarded after use. Or give a shield upgrade that increases the hull by 1. 

I think aces should have their respective defense tokens, and tokens should not be allowed for generics. 

I think the squads should be left with their current point values and other abilities/hull/dice. Rather, the upgrades mirror what happens with the ships. If you want a lot of ships, you take few upgrades. If you want a lot of upgrades, you take fewer ships. And with discard offensive upgrades, the game can stay "reasonably" balanced.

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3 minutes ago, Undeadguy said:

To hop on board the train, I like the way the squads are set up now. I don't want a change to the bases, and I don't think it's possible for FFG to go back and change them. In regards to upgrades, I could easily see aces being equipped to different ships, and having each ace with their own ability, if not the same one we have now. So Luke and Vader can keep their ability, but allow them access to different ships. Kind of like titles, but perhaps a certain set of squads and have their point value attached to the squad. Keep the squad points at 134.

We can use the new discard upgrades as inspiration for buffs on the squads. Like giving X-Wings proton torpedoes so their crits can deal 1 hull damage face down, or A-Wings can have concussion missiles that increase their anti-squad value by 1 black. Don't care about point value, but they are discarded after use. Or give a shield upgrade that increases the hull by 1. 

I think aces should have their respective defense tokens, and tokens should not be allowed for generics. 

I think the squads should be left with their current point values and other abilities/hull/dice. Rather, the upgrades mirror what happens with the ships. If you want a lot of ships, you take few upgrades. If you want a lot of upgrades, you take fewer ships. And with discard offensive upgrades, the game can stay "reasonably" balanced.

Some interesting thoughts there.   

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My main complaint is fiddling around with the bases dials and sliders and stuff while precise ranges are required for optimal play.  Those optimal ranges further don't make it easy on a player moving pieces around to put the range ruler in a decent place.  I personally would not have minded, if FFG could turn back the clock, that squadrons were about doubly as costly and doubly as effective just to simplify playing!

I'm still waiting for some super-duper-3d-printer genius to help us out- if only there were a way to put the magic Vassal rangebands down on the table, I'd be happier!

All this being said, I'm a squadron fiend- I love the way the game is unfolding right now, I love the gameplay- just wish the nuts and bolts of it were a little easier to handle.  Maybe I'm just a clumsy n00b though.

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I wouldn't be opposed to upgrades for squadrons, though I haven't got any particular ideas on what those upgrades would be or how they would work. I like the simplicity of squadrons, so basic things like missiles that give you an extra blue against ships or an upgrade that gives you a brace token would be fine by me. Obviously depending on upgrades there may need to be restrictions like "[squadron] only" or "you cannot equip this to squadrons with Rogue" but the basic idea seems fine. I can't say I like the firing arc idea, though. That would be a massive pain to sort out when you have a lot of "maybe it's in arc" situations, and as someone that tends to focus targets down one at a time I'd constantly be bumping squadrons and having to argue about whether or not they had a shot previously. 

 

I'd like to see some really vicious anti-squadron upgrades that can only be equipped if you spend X or less points on squadrons. Like, something that replaces your anti-squad with triple red but only if you didn't take any fighters of your own? Maybe something that gives you a free anti-squadron attack out of any hull zone that didn't already make an anti-squad attack? No idea what those would cost but I like the idea of being able to build a few-if-any squadron list and not get utterly shredded by enemy fighters. I mean, I like the squadron game but if properly balanced upgrades like that could add tons of new options for list building. Imagine three ISD Is not being afraid of enemy bombers even though they only have like four Interceptors to protect them. 

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Squadrons work well as is in Armada, and are much better for one-offs than tourneys, where the management is way too taxing and really drags out games that would otherwise take 1 hour to play. 2.5 hour matches doesn't make for good tourneys. My biggest beef with squads are, in order of issues:

  • Firing and engagement ranges in Armada are way too close.
    I strongly believe the game would be much better, and infinitely easier to manage, had the ranges for firing and engagement been at least twice what they are. This would keep ships and squads from being right next to one another, which makes it difficult to move and change dials and make measurements, and see what's going on.
  • Too many rules for each squad.
    Each squad has way too many keywords and the rules and interactions with other squads is multiplicative, and this is what drags squad battles out. Squads should have been much much simpler (1 keyword or rule max, most with none). Not an option now, so I'm in favor of reducing the max squad points allowed, and stop adding strong anti-ship abilities to ships. I'm in favor of a 1/5 limit. That's 80 points for 400 point fleets, and 100 points for 500 point fleets.
     

If there is ever a 2nd edition, I would have also prefer much further movement for everything. Over the course of a full game ships don't go very far and it's rare when there are more than 3 rounds of real fighting. Slow moving ships barely move 2 feet in a 6 round game. More movement and longer firing ranges would be more interesting and help alleviate the clusters we see now. Less clusters make it easier and faster to play. Sorry for the diversionary rant. :P
 

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1 hour ago, DUR said:

My main complaint is fiddling around with the bases dials and sliders and stuff while precise ranges are required for optimal play.  Those optimal ranges further don't make it easy on a player moving pieces around to put the range ruler in a decent place.  I personally would not have minded, if FFG could turn back the clock, that squadrons were about doubly as costly and doubly as effective just to simplify playing!

I'm still waiting for some super-duper-3d-printer genius to help us out- if only there were a way to put the magic Vassal rangebands down on the table, I'd be happier!

All this being said, I'm a squadron fiend- I love the way the game is unfolding right now, I love the gameplay- just wish the nuts and bolts of it were a little easier to handle.  Maybe I'm just a clumsy n00b though.

I agree. If that is everyone's general main complaint, then just wait for @Darth Sanguis to finish his new squadron token trackers or whachamacallitagain. :) Then one will only ever have to fiddle with the fighters when moving them

Now about how to get your opponent to ALSO use those trackers so he doesn't bump both his and yours while fiddling with the dials/sliders as well........

 

Regarding precision problems for movement, I blame the ruler. It's just straight. It is very easy to make parallax errors when moving. Maybe something with curved grooves to fit squads at their max distances like the Stele Open 2016 armada prize ruler is best. Now if only that can be done to the given ruler/third party rulers sold...

(Searched the web but can't find a pic of the Stele Open 2016 armada ruler anymore :( ) @CDR Stele for help? :)

Edited by Muelmuel

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20 minutes ago, Muelmuel said:

I agree. If that is everyone's general main complaint, then just wait for @Darth Sanguis to finish his new squadron token trackers or whachamacallitagain. :) Then one will only ever have to fiddle with the fighters when moving them

Now about how to get your opponent to ALSO use those trackers so he doesn't bump both his and yours while fiddling with the dials/sliders as well........

 

Regarding precision problems for movement, I blame the ruler. It's just straight. It is very easy to make parallax errors when moving. Maybe something with curved grooves to fit squads at their max distances like the Stele Open 2016 armada prize ruler is best. Now if only that can be done to the given ruler/third party rulers sold...

(Searched the web but can't find a pic of the Stele Open 2016 armada ruler anymore :( ) @CDR Stele for help? :)

Got a few folks around here who use the Cog O Two rulers for squadrons, and those work pretty well. It's a bit much for my personal taste to carry all those around, particularly with how little I'm using squadrons competitively right now, but they do a lot for movement precision. Particularly on the slower rebel squadrons where movement speed limitation is a significant factor and small errors can make a big difference.

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7 hours ago, Ardaedhel said:

Got a few folks around here who use the Cog O Two rulers for squadrons, and those work pretty well. It's a bit much for my personal taste to carry all those around, particularly with how little I'm using squadrons competitively right now, but they do a lot for movement precision. Particularly on the slower rebel squadrons where movement speed limitation is a significant factor and small errors can make a big difference.

Yes! That one is very nice too. You just have to bring all of them for squads of different speeds though.

The stele open 2016 ruler was notched like that too, but into the side at each line dividing the distance bands, so one could fit it much like how one notches a ship with a maneuver tool, and then move the squad its exact max distance without hassle. :)

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I've always thought that the 1/3rd points was meant to be a temporary hold while the game was limited to 300 points so it was a solid point cost with limited release.  I've kinda felt it should be decreased to 1/4th because, the current 134 is just a weird number to have chosen.  

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Yep, I've got both the Art of War and Cog O Two rulers. I bought the CO2 set just for the range one 'engagement' ruler but generally find the speed 2 and 3 rulers used most often as i want to make sure I'm getting the full movement out of a slower squad.

I've also lent then to opponents during key maneouvers to make sure that they are getting their maximum move and not eeking out more than the squad is allowed, putting them into crucial range of a target.

Maybe I'll get the Art of War ruler out again to give it some love and save on clutter.

Edited by ManInTheBox

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You are providing very conflicting view.  You want to reduce squads, but in order to make them less fiddly you want to tack on a bunch more mechanics, more accounting, and more measurement.  Which increases the fiddliness about 20x?

It is also trying to pare out percieved activation advantage, which you can do with least building already.  I fly a 4 ship list including a large ship, it does well.  If you want Christmas trees you need to sacrifice, something folks who want to fly fully loaded ships seem to have trouble with.  Large ships don't need help, they are already big and scary when fielded well.

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8 minutes ago, Darthain said:

You are providing very conflicting view.  You want to reduce squads, but in order to make them less fiddly you want to tack on a bunch more mechanics, more accounting, and more measurement.  Which increases the fiddliness about 20x?

It is also trying to pare out percieved activation advantage, which you can do with least building already.  I fly a 4 ship list including a large ship, it does well.  If you want Christmas trees you need to sacrifice, something folks who want to fly fully loaded ships seem to have trouble with.  Large ships don't need help, they are already big and scary when fielded well.

see this:

On 3/16/2017 at 3:45 PM, Darth Sanguis said:

I think we've come too far into squadron mechanics to really make the argument it "over complicates" anything.  With current Ace abilities plus upgrades from ships, there's already a mess to worry about. Armada should either have squads so generic they're basically tokens, or involved enough they are basically half ships. 

I don't like squadrons because they don't feel like a fully integrated part of the armada system. I believe, quite firmly, that FFG should have either made them a little more finessed by having the features I stated in the OP ( or ones similar) or by another extreme, completely reduced  the need for player involvement and simply add them as a token system. 

And I believe that being forced to sacrifice activation count or a even a basic fighter screen to kit a large ship is logical nonsense. When they kit out aircraft carriers they still come with the aircraft.... It's not like the military goes, "ohhhh sorry, we spent too much on the guns so no planes for you, good luck!" Or, "hey you have to choose between having jets on your carrier or bringing the rest of the fleet, sorry, budget cuts".

Utter nonsense. 

Like I stated here:
 

On 3/16/2017 at 3:52 PM, Darth Sanguis said:

No one said "just two ISDs on each side throwing dice". Fleet combat should be a mix. Large ships, medium ships, small ships.

The system I stated in the OP would make fleet building only a little more complicated, and lets face it, it's nothing anyone here couldn't handle. It would also allow for more thematically balanced fleets. What military would forego a fighter defense because they also bolstered their destroyers? None. It allows for a more dynamic activation sequence, and takes squads seriously enough to justify the level of damage they do in Armada. 


As I've said before, these changes are obviously never going to happen, but to pretend FFG didn't drop the ball on squads by heaping these daft little half-effort bases on us is laughable. 

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